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Need for Speed (PC) review: Excellent port, uneven game

Hayden Dingman | March 10, 2016
Brought to you by Monster Energy Drink

In Need for Speed you play the part of a man who communicates solely through fist bumps, trapped in a pseudo-Los Angeles where the sun has burned out, there’s never any traffic, and the only people left alive are police or street racers—part of a never-ending post-apocalyptic struggle for control of the city’s most valuable resource: Monster Energy Drink.

Or, at least, that’s what I think this racing game is about. I’m trying to fill in the blanks.

Fist. Bump.

Jokes aside, Need for Speed is capital-D Dumb. “But Hayden, who cares about the story in a racing game?” I know. Nevertheless, Need for Speed’s between-race cartilage consists of lengthy live-action sequences that are just full of fist-bumping. I’m not kidding:

No, like a lot of fist-bumping.

Seriously.

And when you’re not fist-bumping, you’re usually raising a can of Monster Energy Drink or a red Solo cup for some inane toast to...speed? I don’t know. You’re the best damned racer Faux Angeles has ever seen, which means your crew invites you to all sorts of silly live-action parties with awkward actors making over-enthusiastic faces in the background. Some of them even play air hockey.

It’s great. I promise. If it sounds like I’m ragging on these scenes, well, I am. Sort of. They’re by no means good. But they’re simultaneously the best part of Need for Speed. As with last year’s Guitar Hero, this sort of knowing, wink-nod live action schlock is a guilty pleasure. It’s boring zero-to-hero tripe, but peppered with so many stupid moments my hand got sore from all the screenshotting.

I’ll take “lame-but-ridiculous” (See: Driver: San Francisco) over “just lame” (See: Need for Speed Rivals) any day.

It’s just a shame there’s not a better racing game to pad all the bro-fisting. I really hoped that a year off would do Need for Speed some good, and in some aspects it certainly has. Mainly, the PC-centric aspects.

1) The frame rate is unlocked. Fist bump. For whatever reason, it was pinned at 30 in Need for Speed Rivals, which is criminal. 2) You can use racing wheels (and there’s manual gear shifting). Again, fist bump. I don’t know how broad the peripherals selection is, but the feature’s in there for people who want to use a racing wheel for something a little more low-key than Project CARS/Assetto Corsa. 3) It’s easy on the eyes. Fist. Bump. It’s not quite as gorgeous as some other racers, but Need for Speed is at its best when it rains and you get reflections all over the place—which is always. It’s pretty much always raining. It’s also always inexplicably nighttime.

 

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